The Irish government has generally been praised for its increased investment in R&D in recent years, most notably since the foundation of Science Foundation Ireland. However, a number of commentators have criticised the fact that relatively little of the technology developed by this research is now being used by Irish industry.
In general the researchers have explained the lack of commercial spin-offs by the long time that it takes for research to advance to a stage where a company can actually build a business based upon the newly developed technology. While I do accept this explanation I am still worried that there is no special incentive to encourage adoption of Irish University research by Irish companies.
In addition there may be unrealistic expectations from some universities about how much license revenue can be gained from licensing the patents that they get from their research projects. In the pharmaceutical business some people and organisations have made large fortunes from licensing patents to blockbuster drugs, but in the ICT sector it is more normal to make money from your intellectual property by partnering with the company exploiting it rather than by selling a license.
Since the research in Irish Universities is mainly funded by the Irish government with the aim of encouraging the health of the local high tech industry, why don't we consider offering a royalty free license to any technology developed by a government funded project to any company who intends to establish or grow a business in Ireland based upon using the technology. This would have the effect of helping businesses already established in Ireland as well as helping attract new multi-national companies to establish an Irish base.
While this might mean that the universities need to forego a potential revenue scheme, I don't think that the loss in revenue will substantially effect their budgets. In addition we could have some scheme whereby someone like the IDA could certify how many jobs had been created by means of these royalty free licenses and this could be used as one of the metrics used to justify the funding awarded to the university(ies) in question.